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Noche Buena in La Antigua Guatemala






Christmas Eve or Noche Buena in La Antigua Guatemala is celebrated by staying up all night burning firecrackers and fireworks, eating tamales, …




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Cuddling Couple at the Cross






I wonder if the lookout point has been dubbed “make-out point.” This couple is certainly enjoying the ambience of the hilltop vista. Can’t say I blame them…







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The Remains of Holy Week






Well, it seems like the color purple will be with us for a while longer. The flowers above are known colloquially as …




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Fuel Home Delivery in La Antigua Guatemala






Other colonial measurements still in use in present-day Guatemala are: Una mano (one hand or five of anything), un manojo (a bunch), una libra (a pound; this one may hurt many of you, but for sure, the civilized world now uses the kilo), una picopada (a truckload), una fila de frances (a row of french rolls), una arroba (@ or 25 pounds) un quintal (100 pounds), una cuerda (a cord equals 1/6 of city block), una medida (a measurement of whatever fits inside a small can or basket), una penca de banano (that’s a banana cluster), et-cetera or basically that’s what I can remember right now. I am sure the Guatemalans visitors will share other colonial measurements being used in Guatemala. There was a recent article about colonial measurement in Prensa Libre’s Revista Domingo under the title of Costumbres que pesan {ñ}.







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Guateflora: Duranta Lila






A simple shot to commemorate the sunshine, the purple, the ever-present spring and to revive the Guateflora series. This photo was taken …




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The Old Man and the Band






This old man and the band are the tail of the procession. There goes Semana Santa 2008… we are at end of the Holy Week in La Antigua Guatemala. Just one more day!







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Holy Week: An Equal Opportunity Celebration






That is right, Semana Santa in Guatemala is an equal opportunity celebration. Sure, cucuruchos take the majority of the clicks of cameras and most of the video recorded, but children, women and dogs have a place in the Holy Week celebrations. Women’s float or andas are a bit smaller and carry virgins or angels most of the time.







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Corozo Palms and its Smell are a Staple of the Holy Week






Just like the Christmas Season comes with its own set of smells, flavors and color palette, so does the Holy Week celebrations. I can bring to you still photos, slide shows, video clips and sounds. But I can not bring you the smells. Like I said back in the Virgin of Guadalupe Day, … the incredible power of the sense of smell can detonate nostalgic memories… if only the smells could be seized like Patrick Süskind suggested in his masterpiece Das Parfum (Perfume). How could one go about imprisoning the mixture of the smells of copal incense, corozo palms, fireworks, pine needles, moisten saw dust, fresh tropical fruits, palm flower arrangements and sweat into a digital format readily available to download onto your own computer?







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Underneath a Holy Week Float in La Antigua Guatemala






So much mumble jumble to present the underneath view of a Holy Week float in one of the villages of La Antigua Guatemala. Andas (floats) are not only the affair of cucuruchos, women also participate; and sometimes even chuchos (street dogs) get involved in the penitent act of carrying the heavy float! 😉







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Cucurucho Paying for His Turns at the Float






Each turn of the Holy Week Float costs around Q60 (around US$8), there are around 60 turns and each float has somewhere between 80 and 100 spaces for the Cucuruchos. That’s close to Q290,000 (US$38,000) per procession.







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Little gray boxes on the hillside, Little gray boxes made of ticky-tacky






Anyhow, what’s got Little boxes to do with today’s entry. Well, once you listen to Little boxes or Las Casitas del Barrio Alto, you’d know it is impossible to get them out of your head. In a recent trip to México over the weekend we took the new road Carretera 14 to reach the highway that takes us to Southeast México. Carretera 14 is part of the road which will circumvent La Antigua Guatemala and some of the villages. In other words, Carretera 14 is the backbone for what will be the periférico around La Antigua Guatemala. Carretera 14 is also one the most beautiful stretches of road in Guatemala.







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Time to harvest the coffee in La Antigua Guatemala






So what makes La Antigua Guatemala the best coffee in the world? To get the best cup of coffee of the world, one must start with the right altitude; somewhere above 1,500 meters above the sea level; add lots of fertile volcanic soil; mix in plenty of rain (about six months); stable temperate weather (about 75˚ F / 25˚ C); once you have the above, make sure you plant the best possible Arabica coffee.







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Coffee Harvest Time in Guatemala






Yesterday’s photo was a close-up of the coffee bush in the lower left corner of today’s photo. If you click on the image above you can the coffee bushes (the small trees) being harvested under the shadows of the Gravilea trees in San Pedro Las Huertas, La Antigua Guatemala. Around La Antigua Guatemala you can find coffee bushes everywhere, including as part of the hedges of La Compañí­a de Jesús ruins.







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The Coffee Colors






The other day we heard many voices on the other side of the fence; voices of children and women just talking and laughing. We approached the windows on the second floor to see what was all the commotion; then we saw men, women and children harvesting the coffee. At this moment, you can see the turning point of coffee from green to golden yellow and finally cherry red.







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SAT Office in La Antigua Guatemala






Well, you may be wondering what SAT office means. Behind this placid view of this government building hides one of the reason why Guatemala is so poor; a beggar really if we consider that Guatemala begs money for road repairing, road building, new modern national identification card, fertilizers, schools, libraries and the list goes on and on. The picture above is the local office of the Superintendencia de Administración Tributaria, SAT for short and the equivalent of the IRS.







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Healthy Lunch: Chef Salad and The New Yorker






Every once in a while is good to stop eating Guatemalan food and eat something healthy, like a chef salad from La Fuente restaurant. A salad and the New Yorker Magazine is what I consider a healthy lunch. The article about an unknown photographer by the name of Eugene De Salignac and his photo of painters spreading out like musical notes, on the Brooklyn Bridge, over the sky line of New York, was most definitely the best dessert I have had in a long while.







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La Peña de Sol Latino Sign






Sol Latino is a band that plays mostly Andean and Latin American music. For a long time Sol Latino wonder around the different venues and bar/restaurant circuit in La Antigua Guatemala. Eventually, they managed to get an investor to open up a restaurant-bar so they could have their own stage where to play every night. La Peña de Sol Latino became their home base; thus, they needed to wonder no more.







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Which Way to Turn?






Here’s a hypothetical question for you. In Guatemala, who has the right of way among these options: pedestrian, bicycle, motorcycle, car, bus, truck, eighteen-wheeler truck? If you plan to visit Guatemala, you must know the answer before you arrive.







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Grilling and Barbequing Time in Antigua






The weather gods decided long time ago to sent into exile the fascist dictator of Cold to the vast lands of maple leaves and bacon; originally known as Kanata. Thanks to the wise weather gods, in Guatemala any time of the year is good for grilling and barbequing and to meet with friends for what is known locally as El Chuparrasco (chupa for drinking and rrasco, short for churrasco or barbequing). Nevertheless, I have said several times that the dried season, or rainless, that goes from the end of October to end of April is the best weather in Guatemala (which covers part of the Fall, full Winter and part of the Spring seasons). Well, if I had to pick one month as the best to visit La Antigua Guatemala, I would pick February. See, in February we have the Carnival, Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, San Valentine’s Day (Dí­a del cariño), the best temperate weather, Silvio Rodrí­guez in Concert (at least this year for the first time ever), just to mention a few highlights for the month of love.







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Guatemalan Cuisine: Rellenitos






Rellenitos (little fillings) is the name given to a food made from plantain dough which molded into a semi-round shaped and filled (thus the name) with a black beans sauce or stuffed with manjar (custard). It is a sweet meal and normally eaten as junk food or as dessert. It is one of my favorite Guatemalan desserts and I am sure I am not the only one with a soft spot for this kind of meal. Check out this close-up shot of rellenitos to see the black bean sauce filling.







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Public Enemy Number 1: The Plastic Bag






Dot 2: The very same day, after reading the article above in my lunch hour, I walked back to the office and sure enough a plastic bag came dancing towards me, just like in the American Beauty film. So what was I to do, but to pull my camera and to start shooting this new enemy. This incident happened right in front of Doña Luisa Xicotencatl restaurant; one of LAG’s landmarks.







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Supervising the Municipal Police






So you wanted to know what happened to the Indigenous singers from February 2nd, right? Well the municipal police told them that they also needed to work and that if they did not have a permit to sing on the streets their supervisor would get on their case. Sure enough, less than a half of block away, these two tourist police were stopped by their supervisors. The Indigenous singers were told to go to the ‘Muni’ to get a permit to sing on the streets. I am not sure such permit exists, not for the Indigenous people, for sure.







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Garden Chickens for Patsy Poor






It was Patsy Poor who requested photos of Guatemala chickens. Well Patsy, you are served. These garden chickens are known locally as gallinas criollas (creole hens) or gallinas del paí­s (native hens) as opposed to the chicken grown in farms.







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Weekend Scene at Calle del Arco






The two blocks from the 5a avenida norte (5th North Avenue) that separate El Parque Central (Main Plaza) and the La Iglesia de La Merced (church) are known as the Calle del Arco (the Arch Street) and the weekends this strip becomes a pedestrian’s throughway. In my humble opinion, the whole city should turn the streets in pedestrian only walkways before it’s too late.







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Signs: Only in Guatemala






No Food, No Cameras, No Guns, No Backpackers and No Private Guards inside, the sign reads. Only in Guatemala you can find this kind of signs (I think). Guns are a big trouble, you know; people do crazy things with them and not only in Guatemala; naked guns are worn in the belts like cellphones or keychains; even banks and offices have an unusual piece of furniture to deposit customers’ guns at the entrance. Certainly Guatemala is not the only gun-crazy country in the world, nevertheless, it sad to see signs like the one above, captured at Angelina’s Doorway.

My condolences to the families and friends of the students who lost their lives yesterday in Illinois. 🙁







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Valentine’s Day in La Antigua Guatemala






Valentine’s Day in Guatemala is known as El Dí­a del Cariño. Cariño and caress share the same etymology and it means affection. The Day of Affection would be a close translation for El Dí­a del Cariño, thus it is much more than Valentine’s Day because it is the day to show your affection, love and appreciation to your co-workers, neighbors, friends, family, and of course, your girlfriend or wife; whatever the case may be.







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Small Procession in San Pedro Las Huertas






Processions are majestic, huge and long in La Antigua Guatemala. You can browse the Processions category to get an idea of the size of the processions in La Antigua Guatemala. There are smaller and more humble processions in the villages and small communities surrounding La Antigua Guatemala. This year, I will try to focus more in the Holy Week celebrations and processions in the villages where you can still observe the fervor, regardless of the size, for all these Catholic rituals. The photo above was taken in the village of San Pedro Las Huertas, while the procession made a pit stop or parada as they are known in Spanish. Well, I think that is the name, maybe somebody more knowledgeable in Catholic rituals can provide the actual name for the stops the processions make every so often at specific spots.